The Ludwig Pioneer snare drum first appeared in the 1960 Ludwig catalogue, marketed as a lower priced student drum. It soon became a market leader in the lower price range, but today is valued as a great drum both live and in the studio.
The drum was a 3 ply shell with reinforcement rings. It featured 6 rather than 8 lugs self-aligning lugs and triple flange hoops. Originally the drum featured a ‘large Pioneer’ throw, available in depths of 5.5 and 6.5” and finishes of Mahogany, Lacquer (duco) or Pearl.
By 1964, the catalogue added that the interiors of these drums were finished with Ludwigs exclusive ‘Reza Cote’ (white) adding that “this new Acousti-perfect shell design provides superior tone and response found in more expensive models”. The snare throw had been updated to the P83, the drum also featuring the classic ‘baseball bat’ tone control / muffler.
The earlier drums featured nickel over brass lugs, hoops and other hardware and no tone control dampener / muffler. At some point mid 1960’s the hardware changed to chrome. We have a drum in the shop as I write, however, with Nickel hardware which is date stamped 1960 inside the shell. The white ‘reza-cote’ interior is a little rougher that the later drums, it has an older style dampener fitted (factory) and features a p83 snare throw. So as I always say, there are always drums out there that are original but don’t match the pictures and descriptions in the catalogues! These drums were built to be played, mainly by students, in the 1960’s; it wasn’t considered that 60 years later we’d be discussing the colours of the dampener felts and whether a snare throw matches the date on the shell interior!
The drum stayed in production into the 1970’s, with features following the same pattern as other drums – updated lugs, snare throw (p83 to p85), badges etc. It’s usually the 1960’s drums that pop up on the UK market, however, and they are becoming very popular among players. I’m noticing more that 6 lug drums that were looked down upon in their time as being budget student drums, are actually becoming more sought after for their tonal qualities.
The tone of these drums are nice and warm, giving that typical vintage Ludwig vibe but with a brighter response than 8 lug models such as the jazz festival. An open sound if you like with great response when tuned high; tuned down with the snares buzzing a bit and your favourite damping and you get that lovely fat but crisp vintage snare sound.
View the drum we have in the shop here